Have you ever heard of the mesquite?
Mesquite is one of the most common trees in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. It is a member of the legume plant family that includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover and beans. It is a hardy tree because it's perfectly adapted to the Mexican dry environment. Here you could read all the truth about the mesquite tree.
Mesquite grows in the northern regions of Mexico, including the Chihuahua desert, which is a mountainous desert region that lies on the border between the United States and Mexico. Mesquite spreads from its Mexican range all the way from the Texas to the southwest Kansas, also it stretches from the Sonora Desert in southern California to southwestern Utah. Most places where mesquite trees are found have low annual rainfall.
There are three types of mesquite that grow in this region. One is honey mesquite, another is wrinkled grain mesquite, and finally there's velvety mesquite. The honey mesquite owes its name to its fragrant flowers. Wrinkled grain mesquite is named like that because it is threaded like pods. Velvety mesquite has leaves that feel velvety if you touch them.
Honey mesquite can grow up to 20 feet (6 m) tall with a trunk one foot (30 cm) in diameter. Like the other mesquite species, it has spines, which are 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and grow along the branches. Narrow leaves are pointed and they are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) long. The wrinkled grain can also go as high as 20 feet (6 m). It has a 2-inch (5 cm) fruit that resemble the spiral shape of a screw. The velvety mesquite is larger than the other two with a diameter that can reach 2 feet (60 cm) and continues to grow at an average of 30 feet (9 m). It has 4-inch (10 cm) long thorns and an 8-inch (20 cm) fruit, such as honey mesquite.
Mesquites have a long root that they use to search for the water enough to keep them alive. This feature allows them to survive Mexican droughts. There are recorded cases of primary mesquite roots reaching a depth of almost 200 feet (61 m). Mesquite roots can regenerate if the tree is cut above, that is making mesquite very difficult tree to remove from the ground. Ranchers feel that mesquite sucks up all the water from the ground that could be used for ranching and agriculture, so mesquite is unpopular with these people.
The benefits of the mesquite tree far outweigh the perceived deficiencies. Wood is very hard and is used in the manufacture of furniture and tool handles. The flowers of the mesquite species provide the bees with the nectar to produce honey. The bean pods that they produce can be converted into a flour and can be used for cooking. Animals can eat the fruit; coyotes survive almost exclusively from mesquite pods during the winter months. Also, mesquite wood is used for firewood and burns slowly and generates a lot of heat, so it perfectly fits for smoking barbecue food in the southwest of Mexican-USA border and gives an unique flavor to everything that is cooked on it.